Thank You, Lady Gaga, For Teaching Me To Embrace Who I Am

Thank You, Lady Gaga, For Teaching Me To Embrace Who I Am

"I am my own sanctuary and I can be reborn as many times as I choose throughout my life." -Lady Gaga


I remember being nine years old and hearing Gaga's voice for the first time. When "Just Dance" came out, everyone around me was loving it until they saw the face behind the voice. All of the singles that came from The Fame started filling the radio stations near me, they were on TV, and Gaga was everywhere. My mom's boyfriend at the time played some of her music and I remember it was always my favorite compared to the country music he normally listened to. The first time I saw Lady Gaga was in her video for "Poker Face" and if I had any doubts at nine years old I knew two things: that was the first real piece of art I had seen since watching the "Smooth Criminal" video by Michael Jackson, and that I was most definitely queer.

Over the ten years that I have followed Lady Gaga, I have seen a true transformation in the woman that we all know and love. Everyone around me never thought she would make it because of her unique style and her badass attitude. I knew from the start that she was going to be big and I could not wait to see that growth.

As a kid, I was bullied and I was an outcast. All my life, I have worn "boys" clothes and felt like I never really had any control over my body. At nine, I was still really young and had not hit puberty but I already knew that I hated my body. My hair was too long, my voice was too high, my face was too round, and my chest was too big. Inside, I felt like I was a different person. Lady Gaga was the thing that got me through this period of my life and still is.

When I looked at Lady Gaga, I saw myself. I saw how she distracted everyone from what she looked like with her bold fashion choices. The way she would make a record and fly to the top of the charts and get praised for her music. Then, she would be on an awards show and later on people would make comments about her outfits, her personality, her dancing, everything about her was judged. Gaga was the truest replication of what I was feeling.

Like almost every other queer person, when "Born This Way" came out I lost my mother fucking mind. I finally saw someone besides Ellen standing up for people like me. The song was everywhere and it was because it was a new Gaga song, but people were hearing the story of my life because of someone braver and with a bigger platform than me.

If we speed up to October 21, 2016; the day "Joanne" came out. At this point in my life, I was out to most everyone and I was starting my freshman year in college and I needed "Joanne" more than anything. The "new" Lady Gaga that appeared with "Joanne" was so real and it felt like when I came out. "Joanne" was not a new Lady Gaga, it is Lady Gaga in her rawest form. This album was a reflection of my coming out. Everything about this era of Gaga felt right.

Due to the major difference, Gaga received a lot of backlash from critics, fans, and everyone in the media. The reason this album is a reflection of my coming out experience is that it's real, painful, raw, and thrilling. With the new album came a new Gaga that not everyone had seen before. The advocacy, outreach, and even the Superbowl performance were new for viewers.

I swear to everything in my life, Lady Gaga has changed me. This woman has taught me to love myself and embrace the person that I am. The pure emotion that Gaga shows in her work has helped me learn to accept my mental health issues and grow from them instead of using them against myself like I did before I found her. One day, I hope to have the heart that she does; all she does is love and care and advocate for things she believes in.

Lady Gaga, you have changed my life. Your music, fashion, talent, and realness has helped me to grow into the person that I am today. You are an icon for our generation and for every person alive. Watching you over the past ten years has only helped me grow and be more driven in every aspect of my life. I won't rest until I see you, my hero, perform live. Everything about you has changed my life and I would give anything to have an impact on someone's life the way you have had on mine. Thank you for everything you have done for me and for everyone else that has had the opportunity to hear your voice. We love you Mother Monster.

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9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.

Do you have fond childhood objects that make you nostalgic just thinking about your favorite Barbie or sequenced purse? Well for me, its my navy Crocs. Those shoes put me through elementary school. I eventually wore them out so much that I had to say goodbye. I tried Airwalks and sandals, but nothing compared. Then on my senior trip in New York City, a four story Crocs store gleamed at me from across the street and I bought another pair of Navy Blue Crocs. The rest is history. I wear them every morning to the lake for practice and then throughout the day to help air out my soaking feet. I love my Crocs so much, that I was in shock when it became apparent to me that people don't feel the same. Here are nine reasons why you should just throw out all of your other shoes and settle on Crocs.

1. They are waterproof.

These bad boys can take on the wettest of water. Nobody is sure what they are made of, though. The debate is still out there on foam vs. rubber. You can wear these bad boys any place water may or may not be: to the lake for practice or to the club where all the thirsty boys are. But honestly who cares because they're buoyant and water proof. Raise the roof.

2. Your most reliable support system

There is a reason nurses and swimming instructors alike swear by Crocs. Comfort. Croc's clogs will make you feel like your are walking on a cloud of Laffy Taffy. They are wide enough that your toes are not squished, and the rubbery material forms perfectly around your foot. Added bonus: The holes let in a nice breeze while riding around on your Razor Scooter.

3. Insane durability

Have you ever been so angry you could throw a Croc 'cause same? Have you ever had a Croc bitten while wrestling a great white shark? Me too. Have you ever had your entire foot rolled like a fruit roll up but had your Crocs still intact? Also me. All I know is that Seal Team 6 may or may not have worn these shoes to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Just sayin'.

4. Bling, bling, bling

Jibbitz, am I right?! These are basically they're own money in the industry of comfortable footwear. From Spongebob to Christmas to your favorite fossil, Jibbitz has it all. There's nothing more swag-tastic than pimped out crocs. Lady. Killer.

5. So many options

From the classic clog to fashionable sneakers, Crocs offer so many options that are just too good to pass up on. They have fur lined boots, wedges, sandals, loafers, Maryjane's, glow in the dark, Minion themed, and best of all, CAMO! Where did your feet go?!

6. Affordable

Crocs: $30

Feeling like a boss: Priceless

7. Two words: Adventure Straps

Because you know that when you move the strap from casual mode chillin' in the front to behind the heal, it's like using a shell on Mario Cart.

8. Crocs cares

Okay, but for real, Crocs is a great company because they have donated over 3 million pairs of crocs to people in need around the world. Move over Toms, the Croc is in the house.

9. Stylish AF

The boys will be coming for you like Steve Irwin.

Who cares what the haters say, right? Wear with pride, and go forth in style.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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